Mbeki gets tough in troubled municipality

Municipal councils, ward councillors and committees must work together to ensure that problems experienced by the people of the Gert Sibande district municipality in Mpumalanga are addressed, President Thabo Mbeki said on Saturday.

“Let’s see what we can do together to address problems like roads, houses, sanitation, water and waste-fill sites,” the president said in his address to mayors from the district as well as ward-committee members in Secunda, Mpumalanga.

Mbeki was greeted by applause and cheers as he walked into the Gert Sibande municipal-ward chambers.

He sat through meetings and sessions throughout the day regarding the state of the Gert Sibande municipal district. He listened to committee members who complained about poor services and communication.

Mbeki expressed his unhappiness with the way in which some matters are being handled.

“There is clearly a problem of communication between municipal councils and ward-committee members. The law says municipal councils must provide resources for ward committees to function efficiently.
But why are there no resources [transport, stationery]? That has to happen,” said Mbeki.

“Maybe when we get back [to Pretoria], we should talk to the police commissioner to say that some people are breaking the law here,” he joked.

Gert Sibande district speaker Flora Moboa said material is being made available to train ward committee members to do their jobs efficiently.

Mbeki, however, was not satisfied.

“The speaker said training will be done. Do I understand correctly that this is still to take place?

“It has to happen now and I think, MEC [provincial minister of local government and housing Jabu Mahlangu], that you should look into this and see to it that it happens, especially after elections when new members are elected.”

The president was also alarmed at the fact that none of the seven local municipalities in the district has a landfill site.

“So where then, may I ask, does the rubbish go? I know, Premier [Thabang Makwetla], that the MEC would intervene to solve this problem.”

Mbeki added that one of the municipality’s major problems is the inability to spend money properly and in a productive way.

“The money is not enough, but sometimes it becomes difficult to spend the money that is there because there’s not enough capacity—engineers and project managers.”

Mbeki promised ward-committee members that follow-up meetings will be held to ensure that the situation improves.

Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs Thoko Didiza, Deputy Minister of Provincial and Local Government Nomatyala Hangana, Makwetla and some members of his provincial government accompanied Mbeki.—Sapa

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